When I think of adoption rates for complex software, the popular proverb about fishing comes to mind (“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”). While there is a temptation to hire experts, as you might when you need a plumbing fix or car repair, when it comes to merchandising, your goal should be to become the expert. Or, learn to fish.
JDA Planogram Generator (PG) is a powerful tool, made more so with the improvements in v. 9 and beyond. The promise of localization and optimization, along with the costs of licensing and implementing the product, have many retailers and CPG companies wondering how to realize the software’s full potential. There are specialists for hire who will happily write the action lists for you. My advice is simple: resist the temptation. Learn to fish instead.
One of the things I like best about working for Vaco is the true commitment to partnership. As our Category Management Practice Director puts it, “We strive to work ourselves out of a job”; meaning, as much as we like fishing, we would rather you learn to fish for yourselves.
An effective approach to this kind of empowerment requires a shift from traditional project-based work. It begins with the understanding that maximizing knowledge transfer does not limit your future business potential, but instead increases it. The next step is to begin building teams of both external consultants and internal practitioners with extensive industry experience. Retail is detail, and is filled with nuisances, dynamics, and pressures that have to be experienced to be understood. Our team can assume the client’s own goals and transform from consultants to coaches.
Our approach to JDA Planogram Generator begins with helping our clients gain an understanding of how the tool “thinks”. This enables merchandisers to distill their category strategy more easily into Planogram Generator. In building action lists, setting scorecards, etc., for Planogram Generator, we pursue of strategy of simplicity – to make them easier to amend as category and store requirements evolve, and to build a library that is more easily applied to other categories. Success here is not in complexity, but simplicity; a short action list that achieves the desired result is far preferable to wasting time on unnecessary action items.
Don’t get us wrong—technology is important. Functionality matters. Nevertheless, do not fall into the trap that functionality is the cure all. Invest in partnerships and learning to reap the maximum ROI from your solutions. Place a great deal of emphasis on knowledge transfer – learning to fish – and building your own capabilities.